Legislators to Require Sports Franchises That Receive Public Subsidies to Offer Affordable Tickets and Limit Price Increases

Groundbreaking Legislation Would Ensure that “Public” Benefits of Stadium and Arena Development Include Tickets Affordable to People of Modest Means
June 18, 2008

Albany – State Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh (D-Manhattan), joined by Assembly co-sponsors Jose Peralta (D-Queens), Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn), Michael Benjamin (D-Bronx), and Michelle Schimel (D-Nassau) and other Assembly colleagues, announced legislation that would limit ticket price increases by sports franchises that have received public subsidies for their facilities and require that a percentage of tickets at these facilities be sold at prices affordable to people with modest means.

The bill (A.11692) would require that public authorities, including industrial development agencies, condition the subsidies on binding agreements with franchises that ensure that seven percent of tickets for each sporting event at the facility are made available at affordable prices. The bill would also limit ticket price increases in the years following receipt of the subsidy, in some circumstances.

"We have a responsibility to ensure that public money is used for public benefit," said Assemblymember Kavanagh, a member of the Assembly's Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Committee. "It is unacceptable for sports franchises to be doubling and tripling their ticket prices – effectively pricing working families out of the ballpark – while collecting public subsidies. We should not grant public subsidies without ensuring that there is a real benefit to the general public."

"New Yorkers love our sports teams, and because of this we've traditionally supported them through public subsidies." said Assemblymember Keith Wright. "Sports franchises have a responsibility to ensure that working people can still afford to see a game at the stadium. This will not be a one way relationship." Assemblymember Peralta said, "In the spirit of sportsmanship, it is in the interest of New York sports facilities to maintain affordable prices and be community friendly – especially if public subsidies have been received. Prices are skyrocketing on all levels and it is our responsibility as legislators to help provide some relief, and avoid the community getting hit twice during these tough economic times."

Citing the most recent example of a New York sports franchise seeking additional public subsidies, Assemblymember Jeffries said, "The Yankees are a billion dollar company that has feasted on public money to build the new stadium. In exchange for the substantial commitment of taxpayer funds, the public deserves the opportunity to attend games at a reasonable cost."

Assemblymember Kavanagh has asked Assemblymembers Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester) and Sam Hoyt (D-Buffalo) – chairs, respectively, of the Corporations and Local Governments Committees – to include the issues raised by the legislation announced today on the agenda for the joint public hearing the committees are scheduled to hold in Manhattan on July 2, 2008.